Managing Holiday Stress and Your Waistline

Let’s face it. The holidays can be a busy and hectic time for people. From parties and events to packed schedules that can cause us to skip the gym or choose less nutritious food choices, it’s no wonder some people feel the “holiday blues,” which can turn into extra pounds. 

Many Americans feel some sort of stress or depression during this time and research suggests that most people gain a pound or two during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That doesn’t seem like much but it can be hard to undo and if you continue the habit each year, it could add up. 

Psychiatrist David Thompson, medical director for Beacon Health Strategies Hawaii has some straightforward and practical advice for people during this time. 

“Take care of yourself! It’s not selfish, it’s healthy. Don’t overschedule, being overwhelmed is not enjoyable or effective. Most of us will be eating more so don’t forget the exercise, even increase your exercise,” Dr. Thompson said. “The reward center of the brain responds to both food and exercise. Do something unexpected for others. It’s not only good for them but you get immediate results! Better than that second dessert,” he added. 

Health magazine recommends these tips to avoid holiday weight gain.

Start your day with exercise. Morning exercise can lead to better choices during the day.

♦ Check the buffet before you load your plate. Avoid foods you don’t really want and eat the ones you do in moderation. 

 Eat three meals and a couple of snacks each day. Choose fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins. 

♦ Do something instead of nothing. If you don’t have time for your favorite exercise class, just 15 minutes of jumping rope, elliptical training, running, or other exercises can burn about 190 calories. 

♦ Chew slowly. You’ll enjoy your food more and get fuller quicker. 

♦ Cut back on diet soda. Stick to water – it’s filling and calorie-free. 

Stress during the holidays often leads to over-eating and weight gain. Try some of these stress-busting tips.

♦ Get some sunlight. Vitamin D stimulates the production of serotonin, the feel-good chemical in our brains. 

♦ Take a whiff of citrus. Research shows that citrus contains well-being boosting fragrances.  

♦ Walk. Aim for 30 minutes each day. 

♦ Squeeze your hoku point. Applying firm pressure for 30 seconds in the area between your index finger and thumb can reduce stress and upper-body tension.

♦ Enjoy a spicy meal. Hot food triggers endorphin release, contributing to feelings of well-being.

♦ Do less to enjoy more. You don’t need to attend every party or cross of every item on the list. Say no at least once – maybe twice.

Happy Holidays from Well-Being Hawaii!